Are Car Accident Settlements Public Record?

By May 15, 2019 Car Accident
Accident - public record

When you are in a car accident, it’s bad enough having to negotiate compensation for all your injuries. But some of you may worry or wonder about the settlement and if it becomes public record? For some, that may be of consequence, but for most of you, it won’t be. Nonetheless, rest assured that car accident settlements are not public record in California.

Who can access a public record in California?

Public records are records made public by the Freedom of Information Act of 1996. Public records are stored in databases and accessible by anyone with a computer — in most circumstances. Some places, you may still need to go into the courthouse or other government entity to access the public record you desire.

When records are made public, everything that had been submitted to the court is accessible by the public. For car accident cases, this may include things like:

  • evidence, generally;
  • the substance and nature of the victim’s injuries;
  • expert testimony;
  • layperson or witness testimony;
  • names of all the witnesses; and
  • the verdict amount.

Who can access settlement records in California?

Settlements are made out of court usually, and as such, they are private. No one can access these records but the parties, generally speaking. The terms of confidentiality are part of the negotiations. Only when the car accident case goes to trial and a verdict is rendered at trial is the car accident record available for the public.

Are there times when a car accident settlement may be unsealed for public consumption?

Car accident settlements are almost always never unsealed for public access. Only in rare cases where it may concern the safety of the public may a judge unseal the settlement. But even then, it would be only under extreme conditions, which usually do not apply in car accident cases.

For instance, if the car accident involved a ridesharing company, the circumstances may be that it is important for the public to know. But again, that would be in very narrow circumstances where the concern is extremely high.

Are there any disadvantages to car accident settlements not being public record?

For some, the disadvantage may be not knowing what the average car accident settlement is in cases like yours. You may want to use already-settled cases to help you determine what is a fair and just amount. It would also make for a good bargaining tool.

If you have an experienced car accident, attorney, however, then there is no need for this kind of information anyway. Your attorney will already — from experience — know what is fair and just in your unique situation and will use that as the bottom line for compensation during any car accident negotiations.

Do you have an experienced car accident attorney in California successfully negotiating your car accident claim?

If you suffered a personal injury in a car accident, then a resourceful, experienced car accident attorney in California can help make sure you get the compensation you deserve. You likely have had to spend your own money on medical bills and medical supplies. You may have missed work. You may be mentally suffering from physical pain. And worse, if anyone died of his or her injuries from the accident, then you have the emotional pain from this loss.

A car accident lawyer will identify the key points of the accident, argue comprehensively on your behalf, and fight to get the right amount for you. If the other party fails to offer a proper price for the value of all your damages, then your attorney may advise you to go to trial. Speak with an attorney who has insight into car accident matters in California. Contact the Ledger Law Firm today.